IT'S ALL ABOUT RELATIONSHIPS
Families start with a bond between two people and evolve from there. Some bonds last decades while others are quickly parted. These evolutions often leave a trail of documentation. This month's issue explores what sorts of materials researchers might find in official and unofficial sources.
The love letter was and is an art form all its own. Our 19th century ancestors, more reliant on the written word, were master letter writers.
This letter from T. James Mitchell to Ann C. Harris, was written as Mitchell returned to New York for their wedding. The couple remained married for many years, living in Blue Earth County. The capitalizations and spelling are as they appear in the original letter, which can be found in the James Mitchell and Family Papers at MHS.
Mankato, Oct 2nd, 1859
With the hope of soon seeing you in person it seems foolish for me to write. But as the ways of God are unscrutiable and having no Insurance on my life. I consider my self as subject to accidents as others I deem it prudent to write to you in case any thing should happen to let you know that I leave here with perfect health. Trusting to the will of him in whose hands my life is placed to see you by the 9th inst if not detained unnecessarily. If any accident should Befall me By the way so to deprive me of life immediately Belive me to the last moment was my love unshaken and I shall die with the same intent that should my life been spared. I should have accomplished. Dear Ann if you hear of any thing happen to me you must write to John Hughs Directly and tell him to give you all the information necessary to fim out. Aresco or else you must send your father to Aresco let him enquire of Owen McAllen and there lawfully demand my Will from him or to have a coppy of it then take the necessary steps to secure to you all property belonging to me..
Then dispose of it in what ever way you please for dear girl it rightfully belongs to you without the formality of marriage.
Mourn not over departed spirits but Dear Ann give them a place in your memory think of one that loved you. Dearer than life with a pure and ardent affection and dies happy to think that your Love was given in return with truth and cincerity. We may both smile at this epistle yet. I hope so.
Somehow a text message would not be the same.
Making it Official - Marriage Records in Minnesota
As soon as they were organized, Minnesota counties began recording marriages. These records often include a license application, a copy of the license issued by the clerk of court, and a return or certificate from the officiate. Besides the names and residence of the bride and groom, the records may include their ages, the date of application and license, and the date and place the marriage occurred. Most marriage records are indexed, but early indexes may only list the bridegrooms' names.
Although most of these records remain in the counties, the Minnesota Historical Society holds some county collections for: Anoka, Brown, Clay, Dodge, Faribault, Kandiyohi, Martin, Monongalia, Mower, Olmsted, Ramsey, Rice, Steele, Wadena, Waseca, and Washington. We are working to obtain more. Researchers may use the film in our library or make a research request for a specific couple.
The only statewide index for marriages covers the years 1958-1995 . It was created by the Minnesota Department of Health and is available on microfiche at the MHS Library. This index is also found on-line at Ancestry.com.
Finding the Right Baby, or What Happened to Grandpa!
Minnesota Historical Society staff can now make corrections to the birth certificate index and the death certificate index. Corrections will be limited to data entry errors and misinterpretations of handwriting on the original certificate. Only the following elements will be considered for correction:
- Birth certificate index (1900-1934): child’s first, middle, and last names, date of birth, county of birth, and mother’s maiden name.
- Death certificate index (1904-1907): decedent’s name, date and county of death, state or country of birth, approximate birth date, and mother’s maiden name.
- Death certificate index (1908-1955): decedent’s name and date and county of death ONLY.
- Death certificate index (1956-2001): decedent’s name, date and county of death, date and place of birth, and mother’s maiden name.
Please note: we cannot correct mistakes made on the original document (only the Minnesota Department of Health has authority to correct data on the certificates). Our staff has started correcting indexing errors noted to us by researchers over the last six years. (It's a long list.) These corrections have begun to appear in the online indexes, but it will take time before all are processed.
Users wishing to submit errors can do so by e-mailing the MHS Reference Department at email@example.com. Please verify any mistakes with the actual birth or death certificate, and include the certificate number along with the possible corrections. We appreciate our patrons’ assistance in bringing these updates to our attention and thank you all for your patience while we process them.
Despite our idealized view of 19th and early 20th century marriage, divorce, although more difficult than today, was neither unknown nor rare. As legal actions, divorce records are found in the civil case files of the county district court in which the divorce was filed. These cases are numbered sequentially based on when the initial action began.
Most counties have transferred their civil cases files (generally dating from 1850 to 1950) to the Minnesota Historical Society. They are found in the local records section of the State Archives. Unfortunately, only a few counties have transferred their plaintiff/defendant indexes, so you may have to contact the county court administrator in order to get the file number so we can find and retrieve it.
For some counties we have the Registers of Actions, which include the case file number. Judgment books or records may also reference the case file number and are also part of the county District Court records. Please note that our files of these records vary from county to county, so be sure to check the catalog and inventories.
Come Rally for History!
Join us on Monday, February 25th, as history fans from across the state gather for the fourth annual History Matters Day at the Capitol.
It all starts at 10:30 a.m., when you can rub shoulders with costumed characters, see history program displays, and visit an information fair. Make your voice heard in support of funding for history at a rally in the historic Capitol Rotunda at noon. Among the projects we need your support for is the revitalization of Historic Fort Snelling with a new vistor center and museum. The information fair closes at 2 p.m.
While you are at the Capitol, meet with your legislators to urge their support for history and see precious items from the Minnesota Historical Society's collections.
See you at the Capitol!